Have you ever watched a movie and the scene feels painfully slow? It’s like each frame, aspect, action, environmental happenings, and everything in between is amplified. These scenes usually drive me nuts. However, have you ever experienced that feeling in real life? If not, I invite you to try it.
The other day as the daily pressures started to mount in my brain. I began to feel anxious and overloaded and it was barely 7am. I did my best to slow it all down. I knew that if I chose to let it, the day’s events would whip in like a tornado wreaking havoc on my all ready too long ‘TO-DO’ list and leave me exhausted, overwhelmed and feeling unaccomplished. That is definitely not how I like start my days or to return to my family after working all day, that is for sure!
I knew I had to do something. I started to focus on my breath, counting my inhale to four seconds and my exhale to five seconds for a few minutes. I sat down, looked around, and began to take inventory of my surrounding environment. There were apparent items I wanted to take care of before leaving for work and there were tasks that could wait. Once I consciously made the decision of where I wanted to spend my energy in that moment, I began to notice that things started to slow down just like in the movie scenes that drive me bonkers. Only this time, it was not driving me bonkers it offered a sense of calm. Then I went to wash my hands after cleaning up the breakfast dishes. I could really hear the water running as it ran over my hands, I watched the soap bubble up and then disappear down the drain. The texture on the towel as I dried my hands even felt softer to the touch than I am typically aware of. I was practicing being mindful and in the moment. After about only 5-10 minutes, I felt calmer, less mentally scattered and ready to assess the urgent and important matters of the day.
Mindfulness, put simply, is the practice of conscious awareness. The concept of being mindful has dated back 2500 years with documented benefits of consciousness for behavioral self-regulation and well-being. Our modern lifestyle is in direct contrast to practicing mindfulness.
So often we are so busy in life, we rush through our moments continuously thinking of what’s next? We are either focused on the past or already racing into the future. This thought process prevents us from being present in the task at hand, in a moment of rest, the conversation we are in, and the list could go on and on.
Have you ever driven somewhere only to arrive and not remember how you actually got there? Or perhaps you had a conversation with someone and do not recall the outcome or if you agreed to anything? This happens to everyone at some point. The brain is pre-occupied with either the past or the future leaving no conscious awareness for the present.
Generally, we operate in a very fast-paced, technological overload and task oriented lifestyle. Occasionally finding reprieve on weekends or vacations. Three quarter of our days are spent doing tasks or “busy work”. Our expectations for ourselves have escalated. Demands have risen in all areas of life and sadly productivity keeps decreasing. The more we pile on our plates, the less we actually get done. Thousands of Neuroscience studies show implementing mindfulness and/or meditation can dramatically reverse the downward spiral of disconnection, disengagement and dogmatic social constructs.
By implementing mindfulness tools such as the examples I gave earlier, such as focused breathing technique and/or really observing your current surroundings for a few moments, you will become more aware and present. In doing so you will gain more time, freedom,clarity, reduce stress, optimize performance & develop a greater sense of well being. When you are able to practice mindfulness you also become a more effective decision maker, achieve greater connection and you maintain a level of focus that is needed in today’s technology over-stimulation.